A female deity. A woman who is adored, especially for her beauty. We hear the term "Goddess" being used a lot these days... it's trending! But why? What is the origin of this term, and how does it translate in the modern day world?
Is a goddess a god? In the English language, a male deity is referred to as a god, while a female deity is referred to as a goddess. Religions can be categorized by how many deities they worship. Monotheistic religions accept only one deity (predominantly referred to as God), polytheistic religions accept multiple deities. We are not referring to the All Divine Creator God, when we say god or goddess, we are referring to mythology and ancient tales, just to make that clear.
Have you ever encountered, or do you identify as a woman whose great charm or beauty arouses adoration? That is another definition for goddess. In Roman mythology, Venus was the goddess of love, sex, beauty, and fertility. She was the Roman counterpart to the Greek Aphrodite. However, Roman Venus had many abilities beyond the Greek Aphrodite; she was a goddess of victory and fertility.
In Hinduism, Shakti is the underlying divine power in the universe — the source from which all existence springs. As such she is akin to the “Mother Earth” of other traditions but is sometimes viewed more as an energetic force than as a divine female being. In Hindu tradition, women are thought to be vessels of shakti and thus possess powers of creation and destruction. Shakti worship is a key element of Tantra Yoga, a form of meditation practice that developed in the 5th century CE.
Brigid is a Celtic goddess revered for her many talents. She is considered a protector of livestock and the young, and she is a patroness of poetry, metal smithing, healing and spring. She is celebrated on the pagan holiday of Imbolc, which falls on February 2 in the Northern Hemisphere. There are many wells named after Brigid throughout Ireland where people leave offerings of coins for healing.
Kuan Yin is a Buddhist deity who embodies compassion. Her name translates to “perceiving the sounds (or cries) of the world.” She is a goddess of mercy, dedicated to relieving the suffering in the world. Offerings are made to Kuan Yin in the form of sweet cakes, lotus incense, fresh fruit or flowers, particularly when one hopes to invoke her blessing or conceive children.
Freya is the powerful Norse goddess of love and fertility. She is a practitioner of magic with an aptitude for manipulating reality to suit her desires. She is also associated with the dead, as she presides over Folkvang, the afterlife realm, whose inhabitants she selects from among slain warriors. In this capacity she is believed to help guide the recently deceased to the afterlife. Those wishing to invoke her help doing magic or attracting love leave offerings of mead, honey, meat and more.
Isis is one of the most powerful deities in the Egyptian pantheon. Her name means “throne” and she is often depicted with the hieroglyphic sign of the throne or a solar disk and cow’s horns on her head. Her magical abilities are believed to be so great they could heal the sick and bring back the dead. In her role as mother of the god Horus, Isis is viewed as a powerful protector and a role model for mothers.
Pachamama is the Mother Earth goddess of the Andean people. She embodies nourishment and abundance and encompasses all of creation, similar to the Greek goddess, Gaia. She is associated with rituals for fertility, protection and healthy crops. Those who venerate her typically leave offerings of food, tobacco, alcohol and coca leaves.
Inanna is the Sumerian goddess of sexual love and procreation, called the Queen of Heaven. She is often associated with the Mesopotamian goddess, Ishtar, and the Phoenician Astarte. She is also thought to be skilled in war and politics and is often depicted with lions to represent her courage and prowess. Offerings to Inanna are made in the form of special cakes, wine, grains and meat.
It's always good to look at history, and see the views + perspectives of cultures from around the world. Knowledge is power, it doesn't mean that one has to agree with the various beliefs of different culture, however it is beneficial to be aware of what exists. It is interesting to take a deeper look at the origins of the term "Goddess" and to see how it has evolved to fit current lifestyles. Some women even refer to one another as "Goddess" as a term of endearment, and that's beautiful, encouraging + uplifting! "Hey Goddess!"
The goal is to be inspired to reach for our highest selves, and when we see ourselves as more than just flesh suits having earthly experiences, we can recognize our own true connection to The Divine + rise to the occasion!
While you ponder that, here is a new tea legend for you to sip on...
Iron Goddess Of Mercy, Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea has a beautiful story, and here is a snippet:
That night, the farmer dreamt of Guanyin.
He was walking through the bamboo grove with nothing but moonlight to guide his path. Suddenly, a golden glow lit up the mountainside. The goddess Guanyin stood in her shrine. The goddess, not the statue, looked down on him with overwhelming compassion. She touched his hand, and he beheld a vision of happiness that spread like morning light. He opened his hand, and in it was a single leaf, green as jade with the aroma of Guanyin’s own lotus flower.
He woke with a start to find that dawn had just broken. He turned to tell his wife of his vision and found that she too was awake, startled by the same vision.
He hurried to the shrine. For the first time ever, he journeyed to the shrine before even going out to his fields. When he arrived, he saw Guanyin’s statue lit up gold in a ray of morning light. At the foot of the statue grew seedlings he had never seen there before. The fragrant jade leaves were just like those his dream.
He recognized the plant from diagrams and pictures from old healers passing through town. These were tea seedlings – a rarity enough on their own, but these were unlike any other. The medicinal tea of Shen Nong’s Encyclopedia of Medicine was bitter and vegetal. These special leaves smelled like sweet honey and lotus.
The farmer picked a few leaves from the plants growing around the shrine and brought them home to his family. Together, they brewed the fresh leaves in boiled spring water and passed around a bowl to taste Guanyin’s grace. The tea lifted them up and brought them a feeling of hope and renewed vigor. The water was thick and rich like drinking cream, the aroma like all the wildflowers of Anxi spring, and a sweet aftertaste that lingered all day.
They recognized this gift from Guanyin as a chance to raise up the whole village.
As the tea plants grew throughout spring, they eventually flowered and made seeds. He gathered up all the seeds from the tea plants and cast them across the mountainside. Legend has it that new fully-formed tea plants sprouted from the ground the instant the seeds touched the rocky Anxi soil. This land so challenging for crops was the perfect cradle for a new kind of tea – one sweeter and more aromatic anything anyone had seen before.
Eventually, word of Guanyin’s tea spread across the land.
Soon, villagers in Anxi county were allowed to send a small tea harvest instead of food as their annual tax. Guanyin’s gift truly brought happiness and comfort to Anxi. When officials came to collect the tea, they asked the farmers what to call it.
The people named Guanyin’s gift Tie Guanyin, or Iron Goddess of Mercy, so that forever after people would remember the story of the iron Guanyin in her shrine. Only restoring the Iron Goddess to her rightful place could bring out the grace of the true goddess.